Staying Warm this Winter: Cold Weather Tips for Seniors

With winter heading our way it is time to prepare to stay safe and warm during those cold Canadian months.

As the air cools it is seniors that are most at risk for injuries and illness. However, by implementing a few safe practices, this winter season doesn’t need to leave you feeling frosty.  

Here are some ways to manage the challenges colder weather can bring:

  • As winter arrives homeowners should be preparing their space for winter including having the fireplace and furnace checked and readied to withstand the cold weather.
  • Inspect windows and doors for cracks that may allow chilly air into your home and have them sealed properly. This can also help reduce energy costs.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home or unit and ensure it is working.
  • Keep your thermostat at a reasonable temperature. Seniors are among those who are at substantial risk for hypothermia. The warning signs of hypothermia can go unnoticed by older adults so, even if heating costs increase, it is not worth the risk.
  • Add extra blankets to beds and opt for a hot water bottle instead of an electric blanket to keep warm overnight.
  • If you are heading outdoors, make sure you are dressed properly for the weather. This includes a warm coat, gloves, scarf and hat. Canadians, in particular, can suffer frostbite when the temperature drops.
  • Winter can also be a high-risk time for falls and injuries. Be cautious when outdoors and ensure you have proper footwear. Try and arrange to have a caregiver or helper shovel sidewalks and driveways.
  • Health problems tend to crop up more in the winter. These include ailments such as painful joints, lung spasms and even heart problems. The wintry weather can put a strain on your body and those that have chronic conditions may find they suffer more in winter.
  • Influenza or the flu is a significant risk during the winter months and seniors are advised to have their immunization shot at the beginning of the season as it takes up to two weeks to be effective.
  • Be aware of your mood as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) happens most often in the colder, darker months. Warning signs include a feeling of tiredness or low energy as well as an increased appetite. This is something you can talk to your doctor about if you are concerned. Seniors should be eating a well-balanced diet and should ensure they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D.
  • If you drive make sure your car is road ready by having it serviced, installing winter tires and topping up all the fluids.

By preparing now for the colder weather older Canadians can be sure they will be safe and warm this winter season.

Written by Chandra Lye

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